2011 roared in with some of the most unusual weather we have ever seen. As I write this most businesses are still closed and construction has all but halted over a large swath of Georgia. I can however, promise better times in the very near future. This year my blog will concentrate on providing you timely stats you can use in your own day-to-day planning and the best sales advice and techniques we can muster.

 

 

There is a general consensus that has taken root from the bottom to the top that homebuilding is the key to an economic recovery. No politician can expect to be reelected by telling his constituency that everything will be back to normal in five to ten years; that’s not acceptable and is contrary to the American spirit of doing the impossible. During the Second World War, General Motors (didn’t know they made planes?) in Michigan was building B-24 bombers at a rate of one every 55 minutes. That’s a large plane with about 1¼ million parts! The story goes that when German Intelligence told Hitler that we were building 26 bombers a day at a single plant with dozens more plants doing much the same; he could not believe it and disregarded the warnings. Hitler then made strategic decisions based on false assumptions which ultimately helped shorten the war considerably.

 

Sooner or later we will get our act together and the recovery will be shortened considerably. There’s going to be a great deal of money made over the next two to three years and it is part of our job to make sure that our readers get their share. Still reading? I thought so. Stay tuned as we move forward on the Leading Edge of what might turn out to be the greatest economic recovery of all times. You play a vital role in preparing the ground for that recovery. While it is individuals such as yourself that do the things that must be done and take the risks that must be undertaken, all of us benefit from those of you who do. Welcome to 2011 and let’s get started.

 

Here’s how to begin:

  1. Declare your intention—every plan begins with you deciding today, what your company is going to strive to accomplish. That plan must take into account what is reasonable and play to your strengths while working on your weaknesses.

  2. Take stock—what is it that I do right and what is it that I do wrong? Every business has a different center of gravity. Some are large and hard to turn, while others are small and nimble. Some are cash heavy, while others are much nearer the edge. Advantage lies everywhere; find yours and use it to your benefit.

  3. Know your market—how can anyone plan unless they know what market they are playing in? This takes two forms; first, you need to know what is out there and who the players are. That’s where we come in! Second, you need to slice and dice the market info to determine what share of your chosen slice you have. Without this knowledge, how can you grow?

  4. How good is your selling—I can’t emphasize this enough; in this market you have to offer something more than price. You must state from the outset what distinguishes you from that other driveway builder, landscaper, General Contractor, etc. Every company, from one man shows to the biggest, must not screw up its pitch. You never know if you will ever get the opportunity again. There’s a whole lot of hungry fish swimming in that pond!

  5. Perception of the economy—every day you must fight the negative thinkers who only can give your reasons for failure. You must be the shining star that gives direction, confidence and the way forward. If not you, then who?

  6. Operations vs. Sales—few of us got into the business we are in from sales route, most got there by building on what they were training or apprenticed in, or through family. As such we have our built in biases towards Operations. Force yourself to pay attention to the sales process every day; it’s what feeds you!

  7. Be a tyrant—customers always come first. Do not except excuses from your people for not doing what needs to be done to support your clients. It is all too easy to be “reasonable” and to accept excuses. The thing about excuses is that they become a habit. Most of us know the difference between real issues and habitual excuse making. Your business suffers when you get suckered in.

  8. Hope is not a strategy—we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again! Anyone who does not plan and then execute lives in a world filled with gray thinking. Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of “wishing” for things to be better; make it so. Reevaluate whenever things change and adapt to the changed conditions.

  9. Ride the wave—success is much easier when you are at the beginning of a change, instead of jumping on just as that wave is receding. There is no way to take risk out of life. Make your choices based on the best information you have and weigh the consequences carefully. But, don’t let your fears overcome your considered thought.

  10. Buy in — you cannot delegate some things. The look and feel of your company should never be a function of chance. Instead, it must be the choices you have made based on experience, knowledge of your capabilities, and the goals you decide on.

Well, this is my vision of the way ahead for this year. I conspicuously left out when I think things will ramp up faster than the current pace. Let’s leave that for another blog. Best to everyone and stay dry and safe.

 

Allan Feifer is the President of DEC International. Allan started DEC more than 35 years ago and has background in the process and construction industries as well as many years as a recognized authority on construction trends and analysis. Allan lives in Florida with his wife and two cats. You can reach him at allanf@dec-international.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .